February 22 – “I have made this place around you”

Monday, February 22, 2016  

I have yet to tire of watching university people driving through our lovely new gate;  after years of watching people stalled in line when someone ahead in line needs to discuss logistics with the gate attendant, I find it so cool that university ID’s open a 2nd gate that welcomes homies onto campus for another work day.  It helps that I like the way the gate’s soft-curve arch frames the university’s clock tower and makes ordinary automobiles look gracious, a welcoming gate again this Monday morning.

February has surprises to go with its dim light.  I dug back in the list for a poem that has been absent for too long, posted first on another February Monday, in 2014.  If you find time to read the post out loud, with pauses, it may tease a smile out from your soul.

Have a blest week.


john sj

February 2014

A friend, some years ago, gave me  David Whyte’s The House of Belonging.   It sat on my shelf for 14 years waiting for me to pay attention.  Two people, the poet and my friend who gave me the book, have created a place waiting for me to find it.  That’s the point of David Wagoner’s poem “Lost” which leads off David Whyte’s book.  It blows me away. “Lost” echoes a wisdom some Lakota friends taught me 50 years ago when I came to the Pine Ridge Reservation to learn how to teach and become a grown up.  I use 3 short sayings as one of my email signatures.

Three wisdom-sayings born on the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation

“Time spent baking bread follows the pace of yeast”


“Motorcycling alone I move as a tiny person in a vast world”


“If I pause long enough, I hear the sound of grass growing — and trees — each at its own pace.”


Here’s David Wagoner’s way to say something similar.  Welcome to a new work week in the middle of February.

john sj



Stand still.   The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.  Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Wagoner (1976)

{Frontispiece in  David Whyte,  The House of Belonging, Many Rivers Press, 1997}

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